Liberals’ loyalty to Ontario farmers and local businesses questioned — New purchasing Act no help for economic revival
Ontario’s farmers and small businesses in cities like Peterborough, London, Belleville, Cornwall and Windsor, should be very concerned that, without significant changes, new public sector purchasing legislation now being fast-tracked into law, will hurt them, says Michael Hurley, the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).
Intended to control procurement, use of contractors and lobbying in the broader public sector, Bill 122, the Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010, was introduced by the McGuinty government only after the auditor’s report exposed widespread improprieties when contracting out work to consultants.
OCHU supports the intent of Bill 122 for greater transparency and accountability with respect to the use of public dollars in the provision of public health services. “However, we are extremely concerned that, if passed in its current form, the procurement policies will be created behind closed doors and will discourage hospitals and other broader public service organizations from purchasing locally, and this will hurt local economies.
“The recession really hurt smaller Ontario communities, its workers, farmers and small businesses,” says Hurley, who will make a presentation focused on key amendments to Bill 122 to the government committee holding hearings on the legislation at Queen’s Park today. “MPPs should be pushing changes so that this Act helps their local economies bounce back by encouraging local procurement.”
Also troubling is that the legislation excludes for-profit corporations and long-term care homes that get public money from oversight. Unlike hospitals, publicly-funded private corporations will not be required to report on their subcontracting or their executive expenses. Nor will they be subject to freedom of information (FOI) requests.
OCHU is calling for amendments to Bill 122 to provide that all organizations that receive public funds, whether public or private, should be subject to the same rules “and that the requirement to report on consultants’ contracts be expanded to reports on all contracts, not just the consultant contracts,” says Hurley.
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